Up-to-date report from one of our students!
Course: Painting and Drawing
Program: One-Year Course
Period: Jan. 14, 2019 - Jul. 26, 2019
I never dreamt I could pursue my passion professionally, but after being given this opportunity at Accademia Riaci in beautiful Italy, it seems more than possible. With the help of a few well-known professionals in Florence, I can continue to learn and blossom as an artist.
This week, I happily dove into oil paints. At various speeds, Professor Berti and I revisited the basics and discussed deeper understandings of oil painting and landscape studies. This exploration has improved my skills and also given me a new perspective on my passions as an artist.
Maybe I am an impressionist painter. (?)
Professor Berti often recommends beautiful places in and around Florence to visit for inspiration. Last week, after the Art Stage in Fiesole, he recommended I visit Settignano (a small town in the hills surrounding Florence where Michelangelo spent his youth). I will say Alessandro definitely has an eye for beauty, because I returned to Florence with loads of pictures and inspiration. Pictured above, he’s demonstrating how to approach an oil painting of a beautiful, blossoming street in Settignano.
I’ll often be stopped in the middle of painting so that he can distance me from my work. I believe I don’t step back as often as I should; time and time again it’s proven important. Here, he was bringing my attention to the geometric lines and proportions in the painting. This is another recurring issue in the beginnings of my work. Luckily, mistakes are easily fixed with paint that doesn’t crack or dry quickly –this is why I’ve come to love oils.
With a large and exciting solo-exhibition approaching next month, I’ve no time to dwell on the details of my mistakes. The following class, I put the last piece aside and started anew under the pressure of time. Alessandro began again with his demonstration and then set the timer for one hour.
I usually tend to spend hours and/or days on a single project. So with my blood pumping, I immediately started slapping pigment on paper. There’s no time to mix color, only to put what you have to use. I liked this concept, and I also came to like to result pictured here. This impressionist style has become even more impressive.
With speed under my belt, we bounced back to basics. In the case for this painting of a garden house in the Boboli Gardens, Professor Berti reminded me of how to hold a brush. A flat brush is best to be held as pictured above; it makes thick, straight lines. Unironically, it’s helpful in painting flat surfaces like the wall in this example. Revisiting this subject, I’m reminded that –especially after investing so much time into a certain set of skills –it’s important to revisit some of the most basic aspects of a craft.
Though I’m working with beautiful subjects, eventually I’m beginning to feel like I’m at another stand-still. My proportion and perspective skills, though I often work tirelessly on them, seem dormant. It felt like every stroke I made was just a little off. This led me to ask questions about what subject matter is best for me; what am I good at, what’s my artistic specialty?
The truth is, with years of artistic experience, I have little to no clue. Yet, it’s one of the first questions I get when meeting new people. “Oh, you’re an artist? (That’s so cool) What do you like to paint?” Sometimes I want to grudgingly reply “whatever I’m good at in the moment” with a nervous laugh. One of the things I love most about being an artist is the independence and freedom in self-discovery; I’ve learned multitudes about the importance of skill-development, non-attachment, acceptance, and perspective due to my artistic pursuit. I figure I’m on a long journey to find my “knack,” but with the fast pace that Professor Berti has recently offered, I’m reminded that it will all come with practice, hard work, and patience.
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